Cassie is being suspiciously nice to Lillian Jean. She offers to carry her books to school for her.
Okay, that's weird.
Meanwhile, T.J. is again nagging Stacey to get questions in advance of Mrs. Logan's final exams.
Sometime after New Year's Day, Cassie and Papa have a long talk in the woods.
Papa tells her that her temper could get her into trouble with the whole Lillian Jean situation.
He explains to Cassie that there will be a lot of things she will have to do throughout her life that she doesn't want to do. But she has to choose her actions and reactions based on whether or not she can live with the decisions she makes.
An example: if he had gotten into a fight with Mr. Simms because of what happened in Strawberry, the whole family would have been hurt.
But, he continues, there are other situations where if he did not act, he wouldn't be able to live with himself. Basically, sometimes you have to take a stand, Papa points out.
The Big Lesson™ Papa has is that, in the end the only respect that matters is the respect you have for yourself.
Papa continues with some ominous advice: Cassie needs to choose carefully how she will handle the Lillian Jean situation. If Papa has to get involved with Mr. Simms, there will be big trouble.
During January, Cassie behaves like she is Lillian Jean's personal servant. And she ends up hearing a lot of gossip.
On final examination day, Cassie runs out of the classroom, eager to meet Lillian Jean at the crossroads. Apparently, she has some kind of a plan.
This doesn't sound good.
Meanwhile, T.J. has been caught cheating. He turns his anger onto the Logan kids, accusing them of acting like they're better than everyone else.
Cassie tells her brothers to go on home without her, since she's waiting for Lillian Jean. When she arrives, Cassie lures her out into the woods to show her a surprise.
When they get into a clearing, Cassie throws down Lillian Jean's books. Lillian Jean tells her to pick them up.
Defiant, Cassie tells her, "Make me" (8.77).
Okay, this doesn't sound like a great plan, actually.
The girls get into a physical scuffle, and Cassie is careful to not put any marks on Lillian Jean's face. It's quite violent, though. Cassie "punched her in the stomach and buttocks, and twisted her hair" (8.81).
Cassie finally pins her down and demands that Lillian Jean apologize to her. Lillian Jean does, but threatens to tell her dad about what happened.
Go ahead, Cassie says. In return, Cassie will tell all of Lillian Jean's friends about the gossip she has been so generously sharing with her over the past month.
Ha! Okay, kind of a good plan, after all.
The weird part is that Lillian Jean totally can't understand why this is happening: "You was such a nice little girl..." (8.88).
The next day at school, Kaleb Wallace and Mr. Granger show up to talk to Mr. Wellever, the principal.
Cassie gets out of her class by telling Miss Crocker that she has to go to the restroom. Instead, she sneaks over to Mama's classroom to see what's going on.
The men want to observe Mama give a history lesson about slavery.
Mr. Granger interrupts the lesson to point out that what Mama is teaching is not in the textbooks that were given to them by the county.
Yeah, Mama says—that's because it's not all true.
So, Mr. Granger has Mama fired from her teaching job, because she thinks she is so much smarter than the person who wrote the textbook.
But really, she was fired because of the Wallace store boycott.
This is a major bummer, because teaching is so vital to who Mama is.
The next day at school, Little Willie Wiggins tells the children that T.J. was down at the Wallace store saying that Mrs. Logan had failed him on purpose, and that it was her fault that lots of people weren't shopping at the Wallace store anymore.
Oh, and he told the Wallaces that Mrs. Logan destroyed school property by putting brown paper over the books with the racist language.
When the Logan kids confront T.J., he totally denies it, just saying that he only told people that Mrs. Logan failed him, and that he was mad about it.
Stacey doesn't beat him up, because what T.J. will get is worse than a beating.
And it kind of is. When T.J. returns to school after a week, he is ignored by most of the other students.
After school, he still denies what Little Willie Wiggins had said. In fact, T.J. claims that Willie probably told the things himself, and is now trying to blame it on T.J.
Well, okay, maybe he did say something about Mrs. Logan, but he doesn't remember it.
That's it: the friendship is officially over.
But T.J. screams at them that their friendship doesn't matter—that he has better friends who are white, and who give him things.